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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

TEPCO struggling to freeze radioactive water

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is planning to try another method to freeze radiation-contaminated water in underground tunnels.

In April, Tokyo Electric Power Company began installing pipes to carry coolants in and out of the tunnels at the No.2 reactor. Workers hoped to freeze the wastewater to stop it flowing out to the sea.

But 3 months into the project, the water had yet to freeze. So the utility last month added more than 400 tons of ice and dry ice. It says this helped freeze over 90 percent of the tunnel cross sections, but there are still unfrozen areas where pipes could not be installed.

TEPCO now says it will be difficult to halt the flow of water with an ice blockade alone, so it has decided to seal chinks in the ice with filler material such as cement.

The utility on Tuesday explained the new plan at a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

NRA experts agreed to make a decision on whether to approve the plan after they assess the effectiveness of using filler material in tests to be conducted by TEPCO.

A separate and larger project is now underway at the plant to freeze soil and create a wall of ice around the 4 reactor buildings. But concerns about the ice wall plan are rising, as the measure hinges on the success of removing contaminated water from the tunnels.
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